Monday, December 16, 2019
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
Reform bills face uncertainty amid partisan impasse
Uncertainties over electoral and prosecution reform bills loomed large Sunday as political parties failed to reach a consensus amid partisan strife. The ruling Democratic Party (DP) and the main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) have been mired in a political fight over the handling of contentious bills, including those on reforming the state prosecutors' office and expanding proportional representation in electing lawmakers.
N.K. media denounces Moon's diplomatic moves
A North Korean radio station on Sunday criticized South Korean President Moon Jae-in's recent diplomatic efforts regarding the communist country and called for him to act independently of foreign countries. The criticism, made by the Pyongyang Broadcasting Station, was the latest in a series of calls that the country's state media and propaganda outlets have made on the South to promote inter-Korean relations free from the United States' influence.
Biegun to meet with Moon amid tensions over apparent N.K. rocket engine tests
Top U.S. nuclear negotiator Stephen Biegun was set to meet President Moon Jae-in and other senior Seoul officials on Monday to discuss how to bring North Korea back to dialogue amid rising tensions over its apparent rocket engine tests this month. The special representative for North Korea arrived in Seoul the previous day as Pyongyang has been ramping up pressure on Washington to present an acceptable proposal before its year-end deadline to advance their stalemated nuclear negotiations.
Pres. Moon to Meet US Nuke Envoy Monday
President Moon Jae-in will meet with top U.S. nuclear negotiator Stephen Biegun on Monday amid rising concerns of a possible future provocation by North Korea. According to the presidential office, Biegun plans to pay a courtesy call to Moon at 11 a.m. It would mark his first such visit since September last year shortly before an inter-Korean summit in Pyongyang.
War of Nerves between Top Office, Prosecution Intensifies over Alleged Bribery Cover-up
The war of nerves between the presidential office and the prosecution is intensifying over allegations that the top office may have engaged in a cover-up of a bribery case. The presidential office on Sunday issued a written briefing rejecting claims made Friday by the prosecution that the top office was aware of most of the bribery allegations surrounding former Busan Vice Mayor Yoo Jae-soo.
Ruling Party Says it Will No Longer Seek Revision to Election Reform Bill
Political parties on Sunday failed to reach a consensus on controversial reform bills, clouding the prospect of parliamentary passage of the bills on Monday. Faced with strong criticism and protest from the main opposition Liberty Korea Party(LKP), the ruling Democratic Party(DP) has sought to produce a final agreement on fast-tracked prosecutorial and election reform bills with minor opposition parties excluding the LKP. The DP announced on Sunday that such efforts, which also include a group of lawmakers in a so-called "four-plus-one" consultative body, failed to reach an agreement.
One-on-one talks between S. Korean, Japanese FMs in Spain seem unlikely: officials
A bilateral meeting between the top diplomats of South Korea and Japan is unlikely to take place on the sidelines of the multilateral gathering in Spain this week as they have yet to arrange their schedule, officials said Sunday. The two countries have been working to set up a one-on-one meeting between Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha and her Japanese counterpart, Toshimitsu Motegi, on the margins of the foreign ministerial meeting of the 14th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) set to be held in the Spanish capital of Madrid on Sunday through Monday (local time).
Presidential office refutes prosecution in ex-vice mayor case
South Korea's presidential office on Sunday hit back at prosecution remarks that claimed Cheong Wa Dae was aware of most of the bribery allegations surrounding a former Busan vice mayor. "The prosecution's announcement is not the final result of the investigation," Yoon Do-han, senior Cheong Wa Dae secretary for public communication, said in a written briefing, referring to the prosecution's Dec. 13 remarks.
Samsung to supply 4G, 5G telecom solutions to Canada
Samsung Electronics Co. said Sunday it has won a deal to supply fourth-generation (4G) and fifth-generation (5G) network equipment to Videotron, a Canadian telecom firm. "Starting in early 2020, Samsung will deliver 4G LTE-A solutions across Quebec and Ottawa," the company said in a statement. "Samsung will increase efficiency in accelerating the expansion of 5G service coverage to match the pace with Canada's 5G commercial launch, which is expected to take place in late 2020," it added.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
Biegun arrives in Seoul amid deadlock in NK-US nuclear talks
US Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun arrived in Seoul on Sunday for a “close coordination” with allies amid the deadlock in the denuclearization talks with Pyongyang just weeks before the communist regime’s year-end deadline. A day before, North Korea issued statements to announce that it had carried out “another crucial test” at a satellite launching site, warning the United States to “hold off” any action to “rattle” the regime
LG Group mourns death of honorary chairman
South Korea’s business world, government and the families over the weekend mourned the death of LG Group Honorary Chairman Koo Cha-kyung, who as the second-generation leader of the conglomerate, had led the rise of the group’s global expansion. Koo was 94 when he passed away from an illness on Saturday. At a funeral altar set up at an undisclosed hospital in Seoul, Koo’s second son Bon-neung, the chairman of Heesung Group, greeted mourners. The deceased’s fourth son, grandson and younger brother -- LT Group Chairman Koo Bon-sik, LG Chairman Koo Kwang-mo, and Ourhome Chairman Koo Cha-hak, respectively -- stayed at the funeral.
Police crack down on irregularities ahead of April parliamentary elections
Police will crack down on violations of the election law starting Monday, ahead of the general elections for the 21st National Assembly in April. The National Police Agency on Sunday said it will launch an exclusive investigation team to crack down on election irregularities, at each of the 255 police stations across the nation. Preliminary candidate registration for the general elections begins Tuesday.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
Biegun visits Korea amid rising tension with North Korea
U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun arrived in Seoul, Sunday afternoon, amid escalating tension on the Korean Peninsula for "close allied coordination on North Korea," according to the U.S. State Department. Cheong Wa Dae announced Sunday that President Moon Jae-in will be meeting with the nominee for the U.S. deputy secretary today. It is the first time for Moon to meet with Biegun since their last meeting on Sept. 11, 2018, ahead of an inter-Korean summit in Pyongyang.
Plan to extend visa waiver entries raises immigration worries
The government's plan to extend visa waiver policies to tourists from Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia is raising concerns about a possible influx of undocumented immigrants. The plan ― extending the five-day mainland visa waiver to group tourists from the three Southeast Asian countries whose final destination is Jeju Island ― was unveiled, Thursday, at a national tourism strategy meeting presided over by Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon in Cheongju, North Chungcheong Province, to help bring 20 million tourists to the country in 2020.
Cheong Wa Dae holds 'in-depth discussion' with USFK commander
South Korea's deputy national security adviser Kim Hyun-chong held an "in-depth discussion" with United States Forces Korea (USFK) Commander Gen. Robert Abrams Friday, Kim said in a Twitter post. Kim said he and Abrams discussed "various South Korea-U.S. alliance issues, including the situation on the Korean Peninsula and cost-sharing" for the maintenance of 28,500 USFK troops stationed here. U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Thomas Weidley also joined the meeting on the day.
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
U.S.' N.Korea Point Man Arrives in Seoul at Critical Juncture
U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun, arrived in Seoul on Sunday with a team of negotiators just two days after the North conducted what is thought to have been another missile-engine test. Biegun hopes to meet North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui at the border, which could lead to a breakthrough ahead of a year-end deadline for the resumption of nuclear talks set by the North.
95% of Working Moms Consider Quitting Jobs
Some 95 percent of working women with children have considered quitting their jobs, according to a recent survey by the KB Financial Research Institute. The institute surveyed 2,000 working mothers with children up to high school and found that only a mere five percent of them have never thought about giving up their career to raise kids. The largest proportion or 39.8 percent wanted to quit when their child entered elementary school and 30.7 percent when they became pregnant.
U.S. Envoy to Visit Seoul as Deadline Looms for Stalled N.Korea Talks
The U.S. special envoy for North Korea will arrive in South Korea on Sunday ahead of a year-end deadline set by Pyongyang for Washington to soften its approach to stalled denuclearization talks, Seoul said on Friday. Stephen Biegun will be in Seoul for a three-day stay and hold consultations with his counterpart Lee Do-hoon and other officials, South Korea's foreign ministry said on Friday.
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
Average S. Korean enjoys only 32 years of a financial surplus in lifetime
South Koreans arrive at a “life surplus” ― that is, when their income is higher than their spending ― at the age of 27, their surplus peaks at the age of 41, and they revert to a deficit at the age of 59, newly released figures show. Statistics Korea released the 2016 National Transfer Accounts on Dec. 9, which found that, in terms of per capita life cycle, Koreans faced a deficit between the ages of 0 to 26 and then again after age 59, with their surplus lasting from 27 to 58, backed by rising wages. The conclusion is that Koreans only enjoy a financial surplus for 32 years in their entire life, with expenses exceeding income for the rest of their time.
Biegun’s S. Korea visit is last chance for US, N. Korea to hold meaningful talks
Stephen Biegun, the US State Department’s special representative for North Korea, will be arriving in South Korea on Dec. 15 for a three-day visit. His visit deserves our careful attention, since it comes at a crucial crossroads in the North Korea-US denuclearization talks. The question is whether Biegun will manage to meet with the North Koreans during his visit. Following the North’s announcement about carrying out a “very important test” and with its “end-of-the-year deadline” just around the corner, it’s no exaggeration to say that Biegun’s visit is the last chance for a meaningful meeting between North Korea and the US.
5th round of defense cost-sharing negotiations likely to be held in Seoul next week
The fifth round of ongoing negotiations aimed at updating South Korea and the US’ defense cost-sharing arrangement is likely to be held in Seoul next week. The 11th Special Measures Agreement (SMA), as the cost-sharing arrangement is known, is supposed to go into effect next year. Although the previous 10th SMA will become void at the end of the year, the disagreement between the two sides is so sharp that the negotiations are unlikely to reach a breakthrough by then.
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
N. Korea conducts another ‘important test’ Friday
North Korea conducted another “crucial” engine test apparently for intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) at its Tongchang-ri site on the west coast Friday. The test came two days after the United States warned the regime against carrying out provocations at the United Nations Security Council meeting, and a day after it test-launched a mid-range ballistic missile at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The North’s Academy of National Defence Science said in a statement Saturday that an important test was conducted at the Sohae Satellite Launching Ground from 10:41 p.m. to 10:48 p.m. on Friday.
Hyundai IONIQ Electric to be operated in Indonesian car-sharing market
The Hyundai “IONIQ Electric” will make its debut in the Indonesian car-sharing market. Hyundai Motor and Grab, the biggest car hailing and sharing service in Southeast Asia, announced the launch of a new electric car sharing service on Sunday at the “IONIQ Electric” conveyance event. The Korean automaker will supply 20 electric vehicles for the pilot program. The new car-hailing service will be launched early next year in Jakarta and will gradually grow in its size and scope by the end of next year.
LG Honorary Chairman Koo Cha-kyung passes away
LG Honorary Chairman Koo Cha-kyung who built the foundation for South Korea’s electronics and chemical competitiveness and set an exemplary model of “noblesse oblige” by making contributions to various public services with a humble attitude died at the age of 94 at 10 a.m. on Saturday due to his chronic ailment. Born as the first son of Koo In-hwoi, the founder of LG Group, the late honorary chairman was the 1.5th generation of building LG Group to become the fourth-largest conglomerate in South Korea.
The KyungHyang Shinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
Cheong Wa Dae Considers “Phased” Deployment of Troops to the Strait of Hormuz
On December 12, Cheong Wa Dae said it was considering deploying a staff officer to the command center of the International Maritime Security Construct (IMSC) led by the United States in connection to the safe navigation of ships near the Strait of Hormuz. Cheong Wa Dae plans to first deploy the officer and decide on deploying additional troops after reviewing the situation. Cheong Wa Dae appears to have partially accepted the U.S. request for our troops in the Strait of Hormuz, while opting to deploy the troops gradually to prevent relations with Iran from deteriorating.
[Return of U.S. Bases] Plans to Collect Evidence on “Responsibility for Pollution” and to Demand Costs: A Change of U.S. Attitude Will Be Crucial
After the government received back four USFK bases, attention is on how it will proceed with discussions on the responsibility and costs for the environmental pollution and cleanup. The government has plans to set specific standards on the ambiguous “known, imminent and substantial endangerment to human health” in its negotiations with the U.S. However, the key is how much the U.S. is willing to change its attitude. On December 12, environmental groups described the latest agreement as “humiliating.”
Maeil Business News Korea ( http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
S. Korea’s car production in 2019 likely to fall below 4 million units
South Korea’s annual car production in 2019 will likely fall below 4 million units for the first time in a decade due to stagnant auto demand from a sluggish global economy and repeated local labor disputes. According to the Ministry of Trade Industry and Energy on Friday, Korea’s auto production by five major finished vehicle manufacturers reached 3,613,077 units in the first 11 months of this year, down 1.6 percent from the same period a year ago.
N. Korea seeks boost in tourism after total trade halved due to sanctions
The total value of North Korean trade worldwide in 2018 was nearly halved from the previous year due to tough enforcement of international sanctions, but the economy of one of the most seclusive countries has stayed more stable than expected partly thanks to a rise in Chinese tourists and investment.
Samsung Elec embarks on $8 bn expansion in Xian flash memory fab
Samsung Electronics Co., the world’s largest memory chip maker, has embarked on an $8 billion project to expand flash memory capacity at Xian, China to boost output for high-performance mobile memory to 130,000 wafers monthly by 2021 and cement its dominance in the flash segment in the big data-based age.
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